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Buddhadharma : Win 2012
WINTER 2 0 1 2 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 41 Concentrated Mind The first stage of practice is learning to sit in an uncontrived way, not trying to get this or get rid of that. You just sit with clarity and simplicity in the moment. In Chinese, this is called zhiguan dazuo, which means “just mind yourself sitting.” To just sit is to be aware that you are sitting. When you’re sitting, can you feel the presence of your whole body—its posture, weight, and other sensations? “Just sitting” means, at the very least, you know clearly that the whole body is there. It doesn’t mean minding any particular part of your body—just your legs, arms, or pos- ture—or feeling every sensation of the body. The idea is to be aware of the general totality of your sitting experience. The body is sitting; you know this. This means your mind is sitting, too. So the body and mind are together as you’re sitting. If you don’t know you’re sitting, then you’re not following the method. This method is subtle; it’s not like counting breaths from one to ten, which is very concrete. But that doesn’t mean there is nothing to do. There is definitely something to do: Sit! This method does not involve contemplating, observing thoughts, or continually scanning the body. Instead, it involves minding the act of sit- ting, staying with that reality from moment to moment to moment. When you mind your sit- ting, your body and mind are naturally together. You don’t watch the body or imagine it, as if you’re looking in from the outside, which is some kind of mental construct. When you practice single-mindedly and intensely, with no gaps, for half an hour, your body might become drenched in sweat. But this traditional, tense way of practicing the method is not suitable for most present-day practitio- ners because so many are already stressed out in daily life. (Another limitation of the tense way is that it cannot be sustained for a long period of time, half an hour to an hour at most.) So it’s generally advisable to practice the method in a relaxed way, while continuing to be fully aware that you’re sitting. If One Can Be Thus The twelfth-century Chan master Hongzhi describes the qualities of enlightened mind. Wide and far-reaching without limit, pure and clean, it emits light. Its spiritual potency is unobscured. Although it is bright, there are no objects of illumination. It can be said to be empty, yet this emptiness is [full of] luminosity. It illumines in self-purity, beyond the working of causes and conditions, apart from subject and object. Its wondrousness and subtleties are ever present, its luminosity is also vast and open. Moreover, this is not something that can be conceived of as existence or nonexistence. Nor can it be deliberated about with words and analogies. Right here—at this pivotal axle, opening the swinging gate and clearing the way— it is able to respond effortlessly to circumstances; the great function is free from hindrances. At all places, turning and turning about, it does not follow conditions, nor can it be trapped in models. In the midst of everything, it settles securely. With “that,” it is identical to what “that” is; with “this,” it is identical to what “this” is. “This and that” interfuse and merge without distinction. Therefore it is said: “Like the earth that holds up a mountain, unaware of its steepness and loftiness; like the stone that contains jade, unaware of the flawlessness of the jade.” If one can be thus, this is truly leaving home. People who have left home must get hold of the essence in this way. From The Discourse Record of Chan Master Hongzhi, translated by Guo Gu